The coronavirus has us all a little nervous, well, at least those of us who like to plan ahead. But maybe you’ve put the prepping off thinking you’ve got time.
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, and when it comes to prepping your homestead…better late than never.
So, I’ve put together this guide to help you organize your thoughts and get the bare essentials taken care of so you can start building your safety net at home.
What is the Difference Between Prepping and Homesteading?
There’s really no concrete definition to either of these terms, but many will tell you that prepping is more extreme than homesteading. Preppers tend to plan far in advance for apocalyptic scenarios, while homesteaders are perhaps a little looser in the planning department.
In this article, I’m referring to words interchangeably, as both have been used as such.
As a side note: my husband and I consider ourselves homesteaders, but the potential of the coronavirus has pushed us to challenge our self-sufficiency even more.
The Most Important Things to Consider for Beginner Preppers
Before you start running around like a chicken with your head cut off, sit down and think about your family’s most basic needs. This can be tricky because we are comfortable living in a world where everything is readily available at a moment’s notice.
But I encourage you to start thinking about what you need to survive, and then, think about how you source those items…and how you will source them in worst-case scenarios.
1. Nutrition Essentials
The basic nutritional human needs come down to what is listed here on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
It’s really a no brainer, but when you look in your freezer and canned goods cupboard, do you have enough to get you through at least two weeks?
Or do you have mostly perishables and junk food? Because those things will not sustain a family in the long run.
Why two weeks?
Because it gives you immediate relief, knowing you have what you need. Peace of mind gives you more mental bandwidth and plenty of time to take on some big projects and planning.
Small actionable steps will help you get moving rather than feeling paralyzed with your to-do list under pressure.
2. Health Planning
Does anyone in your family have any special health concerns? Think about chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, or heart conditions.
Where do you get your medication, and what can you do right now to plan for the health needs of your family?
Take inventory of your meds, your health, and how you can make changes today.
3. Shelter Needs
Time to have a heart to heart…you don’t need AC.
And as a severe asthmatic, that’s a tough pill to swallow because it makes it easier for me to breathe.
But we can do without. Heat, on the other hand, will be extremely important.
Along with keeping warm during the cold weather, make sure your house is up-to-date with repairs that will help make braving the elements easier.
If you have family that you may lose touch with (if phones cease to exist, for example) how and when will you get in touch with them?
Create a plan to set up dates for meetups in the event of no conversation.
Communication is important whether it’s with loved ones or other preppers. While some preppers go completely solo, others believe that prepping is a team effort…decide how you feel about collaboration right now.
The First Thing to Do When Prepping (Take Inventory & Assess)
It can be extremely overwhelming when you are brand new to prepping. Newbies often feel like there’s no way to catch up in a short amount of time. And when it comes to growing crops and livestock, it’s difficult but always possible.
With that being said, there are things you can do now to put you in a better place later.
When you’re a new prepper, there’s a good chance something happened that made you start considering this new way of life. In many cases, the coronavirus has caused newbies to consider prepping as a way to stay out of harm’s way.
So, starting with a bite-sized plan for the upcoming weeks is the best way to make sure you cover your bases without becoming overwhelmed.
To start, take inventory on the following and consider getting your hands on anything you might need to get you through the next two weeks:
1. Review The Food You Have on Hand Right Now:
Perishables – You will consume these first
Canned Goods – Will last longer than perishables
Frozen Foods – Good for a long time, as long as you have electricity
Then break down everything into categories: meat, veggies, starches and compare these items to your nutritional needs…what are you missing? Plan ahead, ration, and prioritize what should be eaten first.
2. Food You Will Grow:
If you have livestock and a garden, consider what you have “waiting in the weeds” that can be consumed later. If you don’t have any animals…start small with chickens, goats, and rabbits.
You can get a lot of protein out of those three animals, and goats can provide your family with dairy, clothing, fats, support around the homestead (packing), etc.
Goats are truly the new homesteader’s best option.
Make a plan to calculate what your current, or future, animals and crops can provide.
And don’t forget about an animal feed plan (consider your space, food available, and what you will need to sustain your farm in tough times).
3. Where to Get Water When Prepping
If you have your own well, you will be in better shape than most, especially if electricity holds for you. But if you need to plan for storage, consider water collection methods and storage plans to extend the resources you have now, and the ones you may have access to in the future.
For a two week plan, just make sure you have what you need for a 14-day hiatus.
Resource for water needs from FEMA.
4. Review Medications and Health Needs
When you have illness in your life, chaos and apocalyptic events can seem terrifying. But now is the time to think about how you will manage your health in a time of global crisis.
Think about the following:
- How long will the meds you have on hand last?
- What will you do if you run out and supplies are unavailable (no pharmacy, no medication)
- Are there alternative treatments you can refer to that will aid in keeping your health under control? (holistic, natural, etc)
- What can you do now to improve your health to a more sustainable level?
- Is there a way you can stock up on what you need now?
Along with medications, consider purchasing, or putting together a first aid kit in case of injury or illness.
5. Assess Shelter Needs
Take stock of your home’s ability to maintain warmth in cold climates without electricity. Consider a wood stove (look on craigslist now for some options) or utilize an out-of-commission fireplace.
Then, start figuring out how much wood you will need to heat your home, and where you will find it.
Additionally, make any repairs on your home that you’ve left unattended…window replacements, checking your plumbing, pest control, roof repairs, etc.
Implement a Plan For Extended Homesteading
Now that you’ve got your head on straight and a plan to start on your path to self-sufficiency, you can start looking ahead. The first two weeks are a crash course, but long-term self-sufficiency is a sprint, not a marathon.
While you may be a bit late to the game, you can still make strides before things could get worse.
It’s just important to start.
Important Prepper Advice: Never Make Assumptions
When you’re a new prepper, it can be easy to assume things like…we’ll never lose electricity, or the internet is always going to be there.
Well, what if you can’t work and pay those bills to keep services up-and-running, or worse, those providers stop operating due to dire circumstances?
Never assume that any of the luxuries you currently have will always be available.
Here’s a list of things not to make assumptions about (hopefully it gets your wheels turning):
- Electricity – How will you warm, or light, your home?
- Internet – How will you communicate, gather information, or purchase goods?
- Supply & Demand – What will you do if stores run out of what you need? Food, clothes, medication?
- Other Humans – Will everyone be helpful? Or will people become desperate and aggressive? Can you get sick from others?
- Protection – Do you need protection from others (masks, firearms, isolation)? From animals?
These aren’t supposed to alarm you or make you panic, but they are things to consider in the long run. Have a plan in place in case you need to address any of the above.
If You’re a Prepper Living in the City
If you live in town, your situation will be much different than those who have space for livestock and crops.
Reach out to those who do have the means to be self-sufficient, offer bartering, services…because you have something to offer as well.
The Bottom Line for New Preppers
To avoid overwhelm and panic, you must make a plan. And good prepping starts with a small scale plan that includes evaluating your inventory and resources.
Once you have peace of mind for the upcoming weeks, you can start planning ahead for long-term self-sufficiency.
Evaluating your family’s basic needs is exactly where you need to start…and yes, it can be hard to imagine cutting out things you rely on every day that are not necessary for survival.
But the best part about becoming minimal and intentional is the empowering feeling you get knowing you have control over your family’s well-being.